Passengers have begun getting off a Libyan plane in Milan, a situation which the Maltese Prime Minister had described as a “potential hijack”.
Officials said two hijackers aboard the plane that was forced to land in Malta on Friday, threatened to blow up the aircraft with grenades.
Both hijackers, who took over the Afriqiyah Airways flight with 111 passengers on board, have so far allowed 109 passengers as well as crew members to leave the plane, officials explained.
Etienne Saint John, a spokesman for Malta’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Malta’s armed forces were leading the negotiations with the hijackers.
According to CNN, John said: “They have grenades and are threatening to blow up the plane. No words on their demands yet”.
“The foreign affairs ministry is waiting for the passenger manifest. The safety of the passengers is of the utmost importance.”
While it is unclear who exactly the hijackers are, Sabha has been a center for political tribal violence.
Deadly clashes still erupt there between tribes loyal to Gadhafi and anti-Gaddafi groups. Enmity runs deep between the Gaddadfa and Suleiman tribes, the most powerful armed factions in the region.
According to local media reports, the Airbus A320 was flying inside Libya, when it was diverted.
Maltese PM, Joseph Muscat, said “security forces who were standing by Malta International Airport confirmed on Twitter that there had been an “unlawful interference” at the airport.
It then added that emergency teams had been dispatched.